Can an Electric Vehicle idle?
When we think of Electric Vehicles (EVs), engine idling is probably not the first concern we may have. Many people may not even realise that Electric Vehicles can idle. But they can, and do, and a lot of electrical energy can be lost through it.
Idling in an EV happens when a driver leaves the vehicle in neutral when parked, rather than selecting the “Park” mode on the automatic gear selector. Essentially, this means the drivetrain and all connected systems are still live and ready to move. Electrical energy is consequently used to keep these systems energised.
We have analysed 6 months of telematics data from Geotab to assess the impact of idling across several of our Vauxhall eVivaros. We use Geotab to connect our vehicles to the internet, so we get live data from the vehicles we manage. This data means we have a real-time view of the amount of energy lost, the effect of idling on range and efficiency, and ultimately the cost to our EV fleet customers.
Energy Lost & Effects on Miles/kWh
Across 6 months’ worth of vehicle data, the e-LCVs we analysed covered almost 20,000 miles, using almost 9000kWh of energy. We now know that 6% of the energy used was lost to idling, almost 500kWh of energy, equivalent to over 1000 miles.
In April 2021, 729kWh of energy was used to drive the vehicles 1448 miles. 83kWh was lost to idling, equating to 11% of the total energy used. This fleet achieved an energy efficiency of 1.99 miles per kWh. If idling had been removed, this could have been improved to 2.24.
In the worst-case scenario, one vehicle wasted 113kWh of energy over 733 miles. That’s equivalent to a staggering 28% of the total energy used – energy that could have taken that vehicle another 250 miles.
500 kWh Idled
6% of Energy Lost
Cost to the Fleet Business
All this wasted energy must be paid for, and sadly is being paid for by the fleet customer. Using an estimate of 17p per kWh, we estimate that over the six months of usage, idling has cost this small fleet of six approximately £85. This may not seem significant, but this works out at £28 per vehicle per year, which soon adds up across a larger fleet, or when the fleet is fully electric.
Over 1,000 miles, we estimate the cost of idling to be £4.43 per vehicle, but this depends on the type of driving you are doing. Idling costs will be a lot higher for urban driving, where there is a lot of stopping and starting, compared to a vehicle which spends much of its time on motorways and dual carriageways.
Looking at our worst-case scenario, one vehicle wasted 117kWh of energy over the 6 months, equivalent to almost £20 of energy wasted over 700 miles. This equates to £25 per 1,000 miles, or £40 per vehicle per year. If all drivers were performing this poorly, costs to the fleet customer would be astronomical.